In any aspect of life it might be difficult to measure the changes we make from day to day. That’s why we should always take stock of our progress from day one to year one. If we start working out today, we might not notice a change in our weight or muscle definition the next day, or even the next week. As we continue to work harder, and focus on maintaining healthy habits, however, we start noticing positive changes creeping up on us. These changes slip past us in the day to day, until suddenly you look in the mirror and go “Woah! That’s who I am now?” When overcoming addiction, we often have to go through the same process. The goal is to look back at who we were a year ago, not who we were yesterday.
Recovery is 1 Day at a Time
The unfortunate truth is we have to start the recovery process on Day 1. Just like we can’t learn Mandarin or French in an hour, we can’t overcome an addiction in a single day of abstinence. It’s a steady, linear change within us. Author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, explains it best. He says the most important changes you can make each day are to improve small, daily habits. There are nearly 370 days a year, so if you improve yourself just 1% each day, then by the end of the year you’ll be 3.7 times better at whatever you were practicing.
Can’t Change Ourselves Overnight
The formation of habits can be undermined by our own unrealistic expectations. Too often, we set ourselves up for failure by trying to do too much, too quickly, with too few resources. We try to go from being sedentary to running a marathon at 5 AM every day. We try to go from a pack-a-day to completely cold turkey overnight. This barrier to entry makes it difficult to practice a healthy habit from day to day long enough to make it a part of our identity. A professional recovery provider like AToN can be fundamental for reducing the barrier to entry by making the process simpler, and better orchestrated as well.
Innovate Yourself for Stronger Goals
Your identity is a major part of your day-to-day improvement. Your goals often reflect that identity. Saying we’re a smoker makes it more likely to revert to that bad behavior. If we were to say “I’m not a smoker” out loud every time we reached for a cigarette, it would build a barrier of resistance from smoking. In this scenario, smoking goes from being a simple, easy task to suddenly being an ordeal. We have to lie to ourselves every time we smoke, and that makes smoking less appealing. Practice saying positive affirmations every morning as you wake up. This can help you solidify your revamped identity, whether it’s as a “non-smoker” or an “early riser” or whatever your goals might be.
One Year From Now
If progress on a healthy behavior feels slow or doesn’t seem to be progressing—just remember. The goal isn’t to be sober or healthy one day from now. The goal is to be sober one year from now, and one year from then.